The Leader's Hand and Sharing a Secret

"Everyone, when they take the embrace, it would be like telling a secret to the person you are dancing with." -- Carlos Gavito, Un tal Gavito

Somewhere, at some point, there was a debate about the leader's left hand position. Some of the older posts on the subject are on Alex Tango Fuego's blog and on TangriLa's blog - more about the thumb position actually, but it ties in. Really, it does. I can't find the more recent post that actually got me thinking about it, but if someone knows where it is, I'd really love to find it again.

In the classes I attended early on, leaders were told to have their left hand somewhat facing their own face. At first it reminded me a bit of this:

(David Tennant as Hamlet. Really this was just an excuse to have a picture of Tennant in my blog.)

How was that supposed to be comfortable? And recently the discussion, that I can't seem to locate now, is about that very thing. That the nearly "wrist-to-wrist" connection of the dancer's hands are more of an uncomfortable affectation, rather than a natural part of the tango embrace. And whenever a leader presented that embrace to me, my hand would sort of sink a bit in his with my fingers actually connecting to the palm, or where his wrist joins his hand. But I couldn't help noticing how beautiful images like this were:

(New York Times 2008)

And then of course, looking at Gavito's videos and pictures, I saw it again:

Photo courtesy of
And this one, from Tangoteca:

I must admit, though my mind was opening up a little bit to it, I still wasn't sure what the benefit was. I mean really, how big of a difference can it make?

And then Gavito actually talked about it specifically in the DVD I was watching. He mentioned that the sensation of feeling each other's pulse in the wrist added to the connection in the dance. No one had mentioned that before.

At the next milonga, when gentlemen (though only a few actually lead that particular hand position) offered that, I accepted fully, instead of dropping my hand slightly. If it was offered, I laid my wrist against my leader's wrist. It sounds silly doesn't it? Even overly dramatic, maybe?

But when I felt it - someone else's pulse against my wrist, it changed how thought of the embrace. It felt like sharing a secret language. No one can here it or see it. It's just a tiny thing - not even as strong as feeling my leader's heart beat against mine. But there it is. A whisper between us.


thewailer said...

whoa! mariq here!

Tango Therapist said...

Okay, I'll try it. But first a few ideas. First, you are just tall enough to put your nose on my jugular vein. The neck beats the the wrist, and if my heart stops during a fast milonga, you are more likely to save my life with first aid. Vistors at the milonga might think that tango is more sensual than they had previously thought as you revive me in the center of the floor as others pass around us. Second, why the wrist if I can feel your heart? Third, sometimes the most wonderful thing of the embrace can be a woman's hand in mine. I am on a walk on the beach wither her or a teen in love. My children's hands are the most precious things to hold, but now they are getting too old for that. So I have a hand holding deficit in my life. Don't take that away. BYE hand holding is one of your strenghts as a dancer, you never become the tense crow-talon hand on me-- always soft and melting. But the wrist... I will try.

Mari said...

Hola Mariq!

Tango Therapist - perhaps you should revisit some pictures of yourself dancing. We already connect at the wrist (and hold hands). Look for my email. ;)

Anonymous said...

I personally dislike the "sliding hand" hold, where somehow, during the course of the song, my fingers are slithering downward until only the tips touch the bottom of his palm. I feel very neglected and uncared for, and I don't understand how this happens. It's almost like he's presenting a flat palm with no "holding" intention, or like I'm expected to do all the work. It's just weird.

Hi Mark!